Monday, May 6, 2024

9 Things We Like and Dislike About Working in Dubai

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Many Filipinos are currently working in Dubai. 

Of the over 700,000 Filipinos living in the United Arab Emirates, 450,000 of them are based in Dubai, effectively making one of every five residents in this bustling city come from the Philippines. With that number, one must have sensed that Dubai is a suitable place to work, knowing that many Filipinos live and work there in fields like construction, information technology, retail, design, tourism, and as household workers.

As a provider of employment to many Filipinos, we are grateful for the opportunities to work and sustain many Filipino families back home. But to a Filipino weighing his or her career options, Dubai can still be treated as a challenging place to settle where expats need to withstand extreme temperatures, and workers can be subjected to exploitation. And just like in many other places Filipinos go to find work, there are things we like and dislike about Dubai.

Things We Like About Dubai

1. Learn about world culture. As a city dominated by foreign workers, Dubai is a rich, fertile ground to learn more about world culture. It is easy to stumble across a Briton, Ethiopian, Indian, Chinese or Egyptian. Once you befriend them, you’ll learn more about their language, food, customs, and beliefs. We could learn random things like tipping in a restaurant, food choices, and how they celebrate their country’s holidays. Apart from this, you’ll easily get new connections across international networks which might be helpful in your future expatriate career.

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2. Dubai has plenty of things you can do. Forget the idea of an Islamic state which restricts a lot of actions. In fact, you can forget the word boredom since you’ll be spoiled for the choice of things you can explore in Dubai. You can choose a variety of multinational dishes, explore desert buggy rides, or hot-air balloons, go skiing, or helicopter tours, or try shisha in one of the dozens of bars scattered around. Not to mention the enormous malls that see cater to almost every shopper’s desire.

If you like to explore Dubai on foot, you can take the historic parts of the city in Old Dubai such as Bur Dubai, Satwa and Deira are easy to walk around. Newly-developed districts such as Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, and Dubai Marina have dedicated walking routes and pedestrian paths. The 11-kilometer Palm Jumeirah crescent offers sights of the famous Atlantis, The Palm along the way, to Dubai Marina Walk’s picturesque waterside path and the fascinating Dubai Water Canal. For those who wish to go for brisk walking or running, the neighborhood of Jumeirah also has a continuous 7km track that stretches along Kite Beach.

3. Comfortable living. 
If you’re employed with generous (or expat-level) compensation, you’ll find living in Dubai a very luxurious experience. The apartments are well-attended and spacious enough for you and your family.

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4. Opportunities for work. 
As a regional hub of many multinational companies, Dubai is a place to explore a wider list of job opportunities in tourism and hospitality, information technology, oil and construction, finance, and healthcare. As a qualified professional, you’ll find employers looking for your qualifications, skills, and experience. Blue-collar jobs are also available such as cleaning and housekeeping crew, construction staff, room attendants, sales personnel, receptionists, and maintenance staff.

5. Tax-free salary. Although federal corporate tax has been introduced at the start of 2022, the United Arab Emirates government does not impose income taxes on individuals working and living in the country. This means workers get to keep their entire salary without tax deductions or need to save up for later tax payments.

Things We Don’t Like About Dubai

1. The scorching summer heat.
Although Filipinos are used to the hot and humid tropical climate of the Philippines, summer in Dubai is another beast. Other seasons of the year are much more bearable, thankfully. Hence, workers in Dubai just need to be cautious of the summer heat whose temperatures typically hover around the 40C levels from June to September. Wearing light cotton materials is preferable. You may enjoy working in the office with regulated indoor temperatures, but if you work outdoors, be prepared to hydrate against the punishing climate.

2. The Dubai cost of living.
You may enjoy the comforts of city living, only if you’re a highly paid expat or provided with company quarters, something that’s not very common among the general working population. It’s a good thing there is no salary tax: it’s expensive to send a child to school and pay for apartment bills and other daily expenses.

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For well-paid expatriates, the cost of living is often made up by salary levels, allowances, and other perks. But for low-income migrant workers, stretching the budget on home rental and other expenses is a big challenge. Thus, it’s not surprising to find Filipinos and other nationals sacrificing personal space and privacy for a low-end living quarter so they can send enough money to their families back home.

3. Poor job security.
Just like in other regional hubs like London or Singapore, the impact of an economic downturn is more pronounced among the Dubai workforce. Entry-level jobs are among the first to go, and once you receive your layoff notice, you’ll only have 30 days to find another job. Even during lean seasons, low-wage workers might find themselves constantly looking for jobs as competition is fierce for job vacancies.

Once a project is finished or their contracts are finished, the search for a new job commences. It’s sad to realize that this is a common experience among those who don’t receive well-paying jobs. This brings us to our next point.

4. Exploitation for low-paid workers.
In the name of business efficiency and profits, many companies hire poorly-paid workers from poor countries, subject them to subhuman working conditions, offer paltry pay (thinking that this is still higher than what they’ll get back home), seize their passports and other forms of discrimination. Enforcement of this law is relaxed at best, so unscrupulous employers take advantage and exploit these workers who have limited options and are likely to accept what’s being offered to them.

5. It’s a fine city
You can view Dubai’s fines as a measure to impose order and rule of law. Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Living with the opposite sex other than the spouse can be subject to a fine or worse. Posting photos on social media without the consent of those who appear there is also subject to a hefty fine or even jail time. Another example is the list of fines imposed on Dubai metro trains. Most fines are reasonable, but others are a tad too much. Tired souls from a work shift trying to get home are not supposed to sleep on trains or risk a fine of AED300 for dozing off.


Dubai provides a wide spectrum of opportunities for people across different skill levels and cultural backgrounds. And just like any other country, it has its own share of advantages as a workplace. Like it or hate it, we’ll try to blend in and adopt the way of life in Dubai. After all, it’s a privilege to get a job and earn a living here.

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  1. If you think working in your own country is insufficient, swallow the bitter pill. But to me, no matter how much compensation could these countries give, I wouldn’t exchange the happiness I get working with my own people. I was stationed in Libya where I was receiving enough to buy a mercedes benze in 3 months. I came back home a year later. 20 years later, I did not regret the decision. I am very happy with my situation

  2. True!i stay for 1 month in the morning nag iiyakan mga kasama ko sa house na mmiss na daw nila family nila sa pinas the pag gabi masayang masaya sila dahil isa isa ng dumadating mga chicks nila..hehe

  3. Wla na kasi asenso ang pilipinas..habang tumatagal pasikip ng pasikip..kung sino pa ang wlang trabaho cla ang sandamakmak ng anak..asa na sa gobyerno ang paganak malamang pati pangkain..kya d dn masisisi ang mga ofw kung bakit umaalis ng graduate ka may lisensya pero walang dami ng professional iilan ang trabaho..sama sama nga..sama sama din gutom kaya tiis na lang mapalayo..

  4. Baliwala ang weather kung aircon naman pinapasukan or tinutuluyan. Swertehan lang din ang paghahanapbuhay dito sa Dubai. Kaya wagmagyabang pag-uwi ng Pinas. Dami ko kailala at kasamahan na more than 10years na dito wala paring naging accomplishment sa Pinas. Puro gadgets lang ang nabibili.


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